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Top 100 Goalies: Active goaltenders who could be future additions

Several active NHL goaltenders are on track to make our top-100 list in 2030, from veteran stoppers on the cusp to young netminders with a world of potential.

Ranging from the 1,266 games Martin Brodeur played in the big pads to the 7.6 seconds Jorge Alves recorded as an emergency goalie for the Carolina Hurricanes in 2016-17, a total of 786 players have suited up and stood in the crease in at least one regular-season game in NHL history.

When you consider the best league in the world has been around for more than 100 years, that number seems a little low, no? But it does explain why you may have been surprised by some of the names that made the cut on our top 100 NHL goalies ranking.

The point here is there’s a lot of room for others to push their way onto the list in the coming years. When we redo this list 10 or 20 years from now – and you know we will – it will look much different than it does today. Neither Carter Hart nor Thatcher Demko have established themselves as NHL stoppers yet, but their body of work in other leagues suggests that one day they will find themselves among this group. But we don’t have to look even that far ahead. Here are nine goalies in the NHL right now, listed in alphabetical order, who have the makings of being among the top 100 of all-time in 2030.

1. FREDERIK ANDERSEN, TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
The moment Frederik Andersen stepped into the crease with the Anaheim Ducks in 2013, he made history as the first Denmark-born goalie in the NHL. Since then, he’s become the first Dane to be named to the all-rookie team, to win the Jennings and to be named top goalie at the World Championship, a feat he accomplished in 2018.

Will he become the first goalie from Denmark to lead a team to a Stanley Cup? Well, when you combine his raw skill, his body of work so far and the team he’s backstopping, that possibility exists. Andersen is under contract to the Toronto Maple Leafs through 2020-21, which means he’ll be the last line of defense on one of the most promising teams for the next few seasons at least. Andersen possesses great natural ability and at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, is a dominating presence. Whether in Denmark, Sweden or the NHL, he has shown an ability to put up eye-popping stats and go on long hot streaks.

Consistency is an issue, particularly in the playoffs. But Andersen has the mental toughness to break through with the kind of dominating performance a team needs to win a Stanley Cup. If he can sprinkle in more consistency into his game, he’ll find himself on the list.

2. DEVAN DUBNYK, MINNESOTA WILD
There was a time earlier in his career when Devan Dubnyk would’ve been happy just to survive in the NHL, forget about making a top 100 of all-time list. But that changed on Jan. 14, 2015, when a desperate Minnesota Wild team sent a third-rounder to Arizona in order to get Dubnyk, who picked himself off the scrap heap and rejuvenated his career en route to becoming one of the most dominant goalies in the NHL.

Dubnyk went 27-9-2 with the Wild in his first season and picked up the Bill Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication. And since then, he hasn’t looked back. Four straight seasons of 30-plus wins have put him over the 200 mark and, more importantly, he’s found a home in Minnesota and is no longer prone to those bouts of insecurity and inconsistency that used to plague him.

Like a long list of stoppers, Dubnyk needed time to mature and find his game. It may have taken him longer than most, and his journey was more circuitous, but now that he’s at the top of his game, he’s primed for more seasons as a dominant presence in the Wild crease. “This feels right,” he said at the 2017 All-Star Game. “There’s nothing magical about it. It just feels like business as it’s supposed to be done.” And as long as Dubnyk keeps taking care of business, his place in NHL history will take care of itself.

3. JOHN GIBSON, ANAHEIM DUCKS
Anaheim’s belief that John Gibson would be capable of carrying the franchise as their No. 1 goalie was the reason the Ducks were able to trade away Andersen for first- and second-round picks in 2016. And in the two seasons that followed, Gibson did nothing to make them question that decision.

In fact, in a decade or so, we might all look back at the goalies on this list and put Gibson’s name at the top. Gibson improved in virtually every category in each of his first four seasons and there is still room for him to grow. The Ducks are counting on that happening, which is why they signed him to an eight-year, $51.2-million extension that begins in 2019-20.

After being broken into the NHL during the first couple of years of his career, Gibson had 49 and 60 starts in 2016-17 and 2017-18, serving notice that he can be a workhorse. He has the requisite size and ability to do that without getting worn down. Some of his future performance, particularly his win totals, will be dependent upon what kind of team the Ducks put in front of him, but he has already shared a Jennings Trophy and is capable of helping a team overachieve. And Gibson has the kind of natural talent that leads people to believe there’s a lot of upside that has not yet been mined.

4. CONNOR HELLEBUYCK, WINNIPEG JETS
During the Winnipeg Jets’ run to the Western Conference final in 2018, Connor Hellebuyck had a ritual of staring directly and menacingly into the camera while putting his equipment on before the game. The message was clear. This was a young man who was all business.

And business is booming now. After a couple seasons where the Jets weren’t sure what they had – or didn’t have – in their young goalie, Hellebuyck arranged all his tools in perfect order in 2017-18 and emerged as one of the best. He was rewarded for his efforts by signing a six-year, $37-million extension with the Jets that kicked in for 2018-19.

A fifth-round pick in 2012, Hellebuyck is one example of shrewd drafting and developing by the Jets and their GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, which is one reason why he has the potential to put up boffo numbers, perhaps win a Stanley Cup or two and rocket up this list. In fact, to suggest Hellebuyck entered 2018-19 in much the same situation as Jonathan Quick several years prior would not be a stretch. The Jets are a team on the rise, with heady days ahead of them. That means for the next six years, Hellebuyck could pile up the kind of numbers that would put him in the pantheon of the game’s greats.

5. MARTIN JONES, SAN JOSE SHARKS
The whole persona of Martin Jones off the ice is the same as it is when he’s playing. He’s not a terribly flashy guy, relying more on measured tones and an understated nature, but he’s still able to get his point across. Jones might be the quietest guy on this list, but he’s also probably the most efficient, effective and consistent.

And consistency can go a long way when it comes to a netminder’s career legacy. A goalie who can put together a lot of consistently strong seasons will find his way on the top-100 list without breaking a sweat. With three straight seasons of 30-plus wins after coming to San Jose from the Los Angeles Kings in 2015, Jones has provided the Sharks with a steady but unspectacular hand. And with a six-year, $34.5-million deal that kicked in this season, he has a lot of years ahead of him in a well-run organization that finds a way to be competitive almost annually.

The Sharks’ window for a Cup might be closing, but there is enough talent there – especially after the splashy acquisition of all-world defenseman Erik Karlsson – to prevent a significant drop-off in long-term performance. And Jones is a big part of that. He’s a very good goalie on a very good team, one that will continue to pile up wins and make the playoffs, and perhaps even claim the franchise’s first Cup.

6. MATT MURRAY, PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
The whole persona of Martin Jones off the ice is the same as it is when he’s playing. He’s not a terribly flashy guy, relying more on measured tones and an understated nature, but he’s still able to get his point across. Jones might be the quietest guy on this list, but he’s also probably the most efficient, effective and consistent.

And consistency can go a long way when it comes to a netminder’s career legacy. A goalie who can put together a lot of consistently strong seasons will find his way on the top-100 list without breaking a sweat. With three straight seasons of 30-plus wins after coming to San Jose from the Los Angeles Kings in 2015, Jones has provided the Sharks with a steady but unspectacular hand. And with a six-year, $34.5-million deal that kicked in this season, he has a lot of years ahead of him in a well-run organization that finds a way to be competitive almost annually.

The Sharks’ window for a Cup might be closing, but there is enough talent there – especially after the splashy acquisition of all-world defenseman Erik Karlsson – to prevent a significant drop-off in long-term performance. And Jones is a big part of that. He’s a very good goalie on a very good team, one that will continue to pile up wins and make the playoffs, and perhaps even claim the franchise’s first Cup.

7. ANTTI RAANTA, ARIZONA COYOTES
By the time 2018-19 started, Antti Raanta was pushing 30 and already on his third NHL team without being anywhere near 100 career wins. That’s not normally a recipe for breaking into the top 100 all-time, but his performance in 2017-18 with a (barely) mediocre Arizona Coyotes team made the hockey world stand up and take notice.

To be fair, 2017-18 was the first time in his NHL career that Raanta has had the opportunity to take the reins as a No. 1 and see what he could accomplish. And apparently, that’s a lot. Of the 32 goalies who had a minimum 35 starts in 2017-18, none had a better save percentage than Raanta (.930). Despite being injured to start the year, Raanta played a career-high 47 games, a total that is going to have to get turned up significantly if he wants to begin piling up career accomplishments before he gets too far into his 30s. Considering Sergei Bobrovsky is less than a year older than Raanta and already has two Vezina Trophies to his credit, it’s clear Raanta has some catching up to do.

And whether he does or not will depend on whether the Coyotes can transform young and raw potential into a roster that can perennially contend for a playoff spot. Arizona has been doing that incrementally, but the program needs to be accelerated for Raanta to take advantage.

8. MIKE SMITH, CALGARY FLAMES
If Mike Smith is going to make his mark as an all-time NHL great, he doesn’t have a lot of time left to pad his resume. Entering 2018-19, he was 36 and had one year left on his deal with Calgary before becoming a UFA.

Smith did not begin to seriously gain traction until he joined the then-Phoenix Coyotes in 2011, and by that time he was almost 30. Despite the fact the Coyotes made the playoffs only once when he was there, going to the Western Conference final in his first season with the team, Smith managed to put up respectable numbers playing for a team that wasn’t very good and served as something of a farm team for the rest of the NHL. Smith was lights-out in his first season in Calgary until he got injured, but he’s part of a 2018-19 team of which much bigger things are expected. If the Flames can realize that potential with Smith leading the way, that would be enough to nudge a career .500 goalie onto the top-100 list. Especially if Smith plays a season or two beyond 2018-19.

As evidenced by his 2017-18 season in Calgary, Smith’s durability has always been an issue. His days as a workhorse are likely over, but he still has the athleticism and raw ability to steal games. He is also one of the league’s best puckhandling goaltenders, using that skill to get the puck up to forwards and defensemen.

9. ANDREI VASILEVSKIY, TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
The first opportunity Andrei Vasilevskiy had to be an undisputed No. 1 stopper with the Tampa Bay Lightning, he ran with it all the way to becoming a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. And at just 24 entering 2018-19, Vasilevskiy is young enough and plays for a good enough team that huge career numbers are a possibility.

Tampa Bay looks to be a Cup contender for the foreseeable future, so that bodes well for Vasilevskiy. The Bolts have some of the best young talent in the NHL both in the crease and outside of it. While Vasilevskiy has the ability to carry his team for stretches, the best thing about his situation is his teammates can do the same thing for him during times when his play might dip for a spell.

Vasilevskiy combines athleticism and fundamentals and, like most goalies in today’s game, has the requisite size to be a dominant presence. But the most important thing about Vasilevskiy, who learned from his father who played goal in the old Soviet League and still coaches young netminders in Russia, is that he’s obsessive about improving as a goalie. “He’ll ask every time if something is open when you shoot, if there’s something his game needs to be better,” teammate Nikita Kucherov told The Hockey News in 2018. “He’s that kind of guy, that passionate. He loves hockey, and that’s what makes him better.”

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